Federal Group

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Federal Group is a privately owned family company which operates significant tourism, hospitality, retail, casino and gaming assets in Tasmania, and a national sensitive freight company. In the past the company has been known as both "Federal Hotels" or "Federal Hotels and Resorts". Federal Group is Tasmania’s largest private sector employer with employees located across the entire state.

The Federal Group is owned and operated by the Farrell Family, consisting of Greg Farrell (managing director), John Farrell (director of business development), Julia Farrell (director of interior design), Deborah Lee (née Farrell; board member) and Jane Farrell (board member).

History[edit]

Federal Coffee Palace[edit]

Federal is the oldest continually operating hotel group in Australia. Its origins can be traced to Melbourne in the 1880s.

In June 1885 a company named The Federal Coffee Palace Company Limited built an elegant temperance establishment (‘Coffee Palace’) to coincide with the 1888 Centennial Exhibition.[1] Seven-stories high, it was the tallest building in Melbourne. It had 450 bedrooms and the largest dining room in Australia.[2]

During the Depression of the late 1880s and early 1890s, the Coffee Palace lost significant amounts of money. This prompted its directors to obtain a liquor license in order to attract more profitable clientele.[3] The original coffee palace was renamed the Hotel Federal and it went on to become the cornerstone of what is now Federal Group.[4]

Over the next few decades Federal operated some of Australia’s finest hotels, including: The Menzies, Savoy Plaza, The Windsor, Hotel Australia, Lennons Hotel’s in Queensland and Hampton Court in New South Wales.[5]

Australia's first casino[edit]

In 1956, Federal bought its first Tasmanian business – the Wrest Point Riviera Hotel in Sandy Bay, Tasmania.

During the late 1960s Federal initiated discussions with the Tasmanian Government about granting the Wrest Point Riviera Hotel Australia's first casino license.[6] The casino was initially conceived to address the seasonal nature of Tasmania’s tourism industry, designed to be an attraction that would entice visitors to the state all year round.

In a referendum held on 14 December 1968, Tasmanian voters were asked the following question: “Are you in favour of the granting of a casino licence to Wrest Point Hotel conditional on the proposed development of that hotel?”

By a slim 6% majority, the establishment of a casino in Hobart was accepted and the Wrest Point Casino License and Development Act of 1968 was passed.[7]

On 10 February 1973 Australia’s first legal casino opened with great spectacle. The event featured the largest fireworks display ever seen in the country, and was televised through the Channel 7 network.[8] American entertainer Jerry Lewis was the main guest artist.

The initial response to the casino exceeded expectations. More than 2,000 people visited the casino on the first Sunday it opened. The hotel was booked out for the first 3 months. Over the years the casino has boosted economic confidence, generated publicity for the state and paved the way for Tasmania’s now thriving hospitality and tourism industries.

Second casino license[edit]

In 1979, Federal Group secured a second casino license in Northern Tasmania. The Country Club Casino and Resort was opened in 1982 and the adjacent Country Club villas were acquired by the company some years later.[9]

Architects modelled the style and interior design of Country Club on the stately homes of America’s south. Former Chairman Greg Farrell senior had always admired the simple lines of the US Embassy building in Canberra and believed that the Georgian style would work well in the rural landscape of Launceston.

The casino is now surrounded by suburbs and local neighbourhoods.

Former interests[edit]

  • Strahan Village
  • Freycinet Lodge
  • Cradle Mountain Hotel
  • Gordon River Cruises
  • West Coast Wilderness Railway

Tourist accommodation[edit]

  • Wrest Point Casino
  • Country Club Tasmania
  • The Henry Jones Art Hotel
  • Saffire-Freycinet
  • MACq01 Hotel (2017)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  2. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  3. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  4. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  5. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  6. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  7. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  8. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  9. ^ Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992
  • Newman, Terry Referendums (p. 304) in Alexander, Alison The Companion to Tasmanian History 2005 ISBN 1-86295-223-X
  • Sutton, Keith Blueprint for the Casino industry : Federal Hotels and Wrest Point Canberra: K. Sutton, c1992 ISBN 0-646-10490-X
  • National Library of Australia has a series of on-line photographs of Wrest Point taken in the 1960s of the interior decor.